Spoiling my 10-year-old son while he can still surrender to the whims of parental wonder, I flew out to Ohio for the weekend to spend some quality time at Cedar Point. Yes, my son and I ultimately logged 10 1/2 rides on the world's tallest and fastest coaster (yes, the half is appropriate as we were privy to one of Dragster's exhilarating rollbacks). It was a coaster riding pleasure that I was denied a year earlier.

However, the one thing that struck me as I spent chunks of the past three days exploring the Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) owned park was how far the amusement park industry had come in expanding the operating calendar.

Just a few years ago, a mid-September weekend in the sometimes chilly coastline park would have called for barren times at the turnstiles. Not anymore. There were about 2,000 coaster enthusiasts in attendance for CoasterMania on Saturday. Some guests staying at the peninsular resort's hotels were taking part in a scavenger hunt adventure, tracking down clues throughout the park. Out by the marina the parking lot was full of seafarers and boat show sponsors. And to top everything off, there were haystacks, corn stalks, and jack-o-lanterns everywhere -- along with more sinister props like wicked gargoyles in the fountain and a skeleton-crusted hearse -- because the season isn't nearly over at Cedar Point now that Halloweekends will keep the park open through October with haunted mazes and more to keep the attendance count coming.

Halloween has already become a critical component of the regional amusement park calendar. General Electric's (NYSE:GE) Universal theme parks and Anheuser-Busch's (NYSE:BUD) Busch Gardens attractions will pack guests in over the next few weekends. Even Six Flags (NYSE:PKS) gets into the act with its Fright Fest. While the weather may not be as cooperative beyond autumn, others like Pennsylvania's Hersheypark -- no, it is not owned by Hershey (NYSE:HSY) -- still manage to deck themselves out with festive lights and holiday decorations, opening a minimal number of rides.

Probably one of the biggest indications that the amusement park industry wants to follow Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Florida and California destinations as year-round leisure havens can be found at Cedar Point itself, where Cedar Fair is building an indoor water park to keep paying guests coming even as the snow flurries start to fall.

While all of these moves won't impact the operator seasonality -- this will always be an industry that packs its mightiest wallop during the summer -- it's great to see the major players take advantage of the active real estate that has been sitting dormant for so long during the off-season.

What is the scariest roller coaster that you have ever been on? Have you ever come across a ride that you just couldn't muster the courage to try? Given the industry's perpetual one-upmanship, where will coasters go next? All this and more in the Roller Coaster Loving Fools discussion board.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to chase coasters, even though he has only been on half of the top 10 steel and wood coasters from this year's list. He owns shares of Disney as well as units in Cedar Fair.